communication

As the disease progresses, the communication skills of a person with dementia will gradually decline. Eventually, he or she will have more difficulty expressing thoughts and emotions. Ultimately, the person will be unable to understand what is being communicated and lose the ability for verbal expression.

The challenges associated with communication can lead to frustration. It can be helpful for you to understand what changes may occur over time so you can prepare and make adjustments. Anticipating these changes and knowing how to respond can help everyone communicate more effectively.

Tips for successful communication:

  • Allow time for response so the person can think about what he or she wants to say.
  • Engage the person in one-on-one conversation in a quiet space with minimal distractions.
  • Be patient and supportive. Offering comfort and reassurance can encourage the person to explain his or her thoughts.
  • Maintain good eye contact. It shows you care about what he or she is saying.
  • Avoid criticizing or correcting. Instead, listen and try to find the meaning in what is being said. Repeat what was said to clarify the thought.
  • Avoid arguing. If the person says something you don’t agree with, let it be.
  • Don’t overwhelm the person with lengthy requests that require complex thinking. Instead break down tasks with clear, step-by-step instructions.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Ask one question at a time. Multiple questions at one time can be overwhelming.
  • Ask questions that require a yes or no answer. For example “Would you like some coffee?” rather than “What would you like to drink?”
  • Give visual cues. To help demonstrate the task, point or touch the item you want the individual to use. Or, begin the task for the person.

Violette Peters and her mother Ablyne Winge.

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